The Rio Grande Rivalry has become more real than ever.
After an 11-day search for a new men’s basketball head coach, Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs decided that NMSU’s Paul Weir was the man for the job.
Krebs said that although some people described the process as a bit of a roller coaster, he thought that from an internal perspective things actually went relatively smoothly.
“We ended up where we needed to be,” he said. “The process allowed us to get to the right place to find the best individual, best coach, at this time for the University of New Mexico.”
Weir was contacted by UNM on Friday, and by Tuesday it had become official that he would make the switch from crimson red to cherry red. He has now become the first person to be a head coach for both the Aggies and the Lobos.
The 37-year old coach had been at NMSU as the assistant under Marvin Menzies since 2007. After Menzies left to coach UNLV last year, Weir was able to take over.
During his first (and only) year as head coach, Weir set a program record by collecting 28 wins and getting the Aggies into the NCAA Tournament.
“I was a one-year head coach. I’m coming from New Mexico State. I’m a little bit unknown. But I’m well aware what I’m stepping into,” Weir said.
When it comes to his buyout from NMSU, Krebs said UNM will not be getting involved, and that it was something Weir will be taking care of. He is working with his lawyers to figure out how much he owes, and at the moment it looks like he might be paying $500,000.
UNM has its own buyout to worry about, as the school owes Craig Neal, who was fired less than two weeks ago, $1 million. This will be paid in the next two fiscal years.
Weir’s annual salary at NMSU was $250,000. His six-year deal with UNM has him starting with at $625,000 during his first season.
However, Weir said that his decision to take the job was not about the money, it was more about the potential he saw with the Lobos, calling his new job “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
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Krebs interviewed four other candidates but said Weir stood out because of his focus on creating a team and giving the program a sense of unity.
When he was handed the famous cherry red blazer on Tuesday’s press conference, Weir said that he didn’t feel comfortable wearing it yet.
“They wanted me to wear the red blazer,” he said. “I told them I hadn’t earned it yet. That’s for me to do now. I’ve got to find a way to win some games.”
Although he said leaving NMSU was not an emotionally easy decision, the now UNM coach said he is ready to give the Lobos all he’s got.
When asked about how he was going to approach the first Rio Grande Rivalry game next season, Weir said he was going to take things one day at a time.
“There’s people back at New Mexico State that are very disappointed in me and probably will never forgive me,” he said. “But just being here right now, I know this was the right decision.”
Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She mainly covers men’s soccer and basketball. She can be reached at sports @dailylobo.com or on Twitter @cisabelg.